Wow--this was a little surprising tonight. I feel like things were pretty damn fun this time out. The ninety minutes really seemed to fly by. I do think the first two debates set the bar pretty low, however. Neither were very exciting and zingers were very rare. The same goes for this one on the zingers front (in fact there were none), but because the moderator kept things moving this was a lot more lively.

I did prefer this format to the other two, also. The podiums of the first prezy debate were all "official" and whatever, but there's an air of stiffness you get with them, as well. The "town hall" style debate we had last time was more loose and freeform, but it also gave McCain a chance to wander around like a lost Alzheimer's patient and Obama a chance to sit like he was a sleezy lounge singer in between sets.

Tonight's format was just about perfect. Both of the candidates had the opportunity to look relaxed when they wanted to and look like upright guys when they needed to. I think the format was also very conducive to having an actual debate, too.

And now to the winner.

One thing that was both the same and different from previous debates was Obama. He definitely won this one as he has the other two. However, before it was just on points. There were very few critical things that Obama did to make me, as an independent voter, feel more strongly about voting for him. In the previous debates I felt the same going out as I did going in--about both candidates. But I had already decided to vote against McCain and Senator John makes me dislike him every time he opens his mouth.

The bizarre thing about McCain is that I totally would have voted for him in 2000. He seemed to me to be a good man and a good leader. Then he became Bush's lapdog and never came back. Nothing tonight made me go back to my old feelings about him, either.

Obama on the other hand (for the first time) really addressed a lot of the questions the McCain campaign had brought up and essentially shot down the potential damage those questions could bring. It was great to see the whole Ayers issue addressed with both of them right there. McCain could have continued to take issue, but he really couldn't have. The same with ACORN and that stupid health insurance fine for small businesses McCain brought up again this time. I was glad he did because this time Obama did more than just blow him off like he did last time. It turns out small businesses will get a pass on the fine while big businesses (who can afford, it won't).

All in all, Obama actually made me like him more. I still wish we had more options. I'm an independent and until I see three or more parties have a serious shot of having their candidates win, I won't be happy.

Now, before anyone accuses me of being some sort of liberal hippie-type, here's how I fall on all the big issues:

I'm an anti-gun-control, pro-choice, anti-abortion, anti-war, small government, pacifist who enjoys violent movies, and caring about people who need caring for. I also feel there have been enough white men running things. Is that independent enough for you?
Sure, you could go check out CNN.com's coverage of the third and final Presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, but for some good -n- balanced coverage of the debates check out CSPAN.org and to see what us bloggers and other Internet types thought of the debates, check out C-SPAN's debate hub here: debatehub.c-span.org

Or you could just keep your dial tuned to ThePete.Com for all of my coverage of the debates, which you can check out here: thepete.com/tag/debate08

Oh yeah and watch FactCheck.org for a nice deconstruction of the debate that goes after each candidates failures to be accurate.